One of Shakespeare’s late romances, its plot is filled with intense psychological drama, but with a happy ending. Goldmark doesn’t fail to highlight both sides of the original play.
EIN WINTERMÄRCHEN Opera in three acts
Libretto by Alfred Maria Willner after William Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale
Music by Karl Goldmark
First performance 2 January 1908, Vienna State Opera.
Sung in German with English surtitles
CONCERT PERFORMANCE The orchestra will be reduced to accommodate the COVID-19 safety requirements. arranged by Matthias Bucher (*1988) published by Cecilia Music Concept, Cologne
Some Shakespeare plays have been set as operas several dozens of times, others hardly at all. A Winter’s Tale features somewhere in the middle popularity-wise, without having inspired any of the most famous Shakespearean operas – which makes Karl Goldmark’s Ein Wintermärchen all the more intriguing.
Composers came to A Winter’s Tale relatively late, with the first adaptation being that of Carlo Emanuele Barbieri’s Perdita, oder Ein Wintermärchen, premiered in Leipzig in 1865.
Max Bruch’s version (Hermione) followed a few years later.
Premiered at the Vienna State Opera in Vienna in 1908, Ein Wintermärchen would prove to be the last of the six operas composed by Goldmark (1830–1915). Frustratingly for him, his first opera would always remain his most famous: Die Köningen von Saba (The Queen of Sheba) brought huge personal success at its premiere in 1875, and its subject matter gave Goldmark scope to display what was considered to be his greatest strength as a magician of orchestration; contemporaries raved about the ‘burning scarlet gleam’ and ‘sensuous iridescence’ of his music.
The librettist of Ein Wintermärchen was Alfred Maria Willner, one of the most prolific Viennese wordsmiths of the day. It was his first collaboration with Goldmark, on Das Heimchen am Herd, that set Willner on his path to producing over 50 libretti, including several for Lehár.
Born Károly Goldmark, the son of a Jewish cantor, the composer grew up in today’s Austrian region of Burgenland – actually not all that far from Shakespeare’s ‘coast of Bohemia’ – but is still most commonly identified as a Hungarian composer.
He never learned to speak Hungarian and allied himself most closely of all with German culture, but did sometimes incorporate Hungarian themes in his music.
Described by contemporaries as modest and shy, Goldmark did little to promote himself, and his work and his music suffered the twin fates of falling out of fashion soon after his death and then being branded as ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis.
From the 1950s onwards his name was kept alive principally through his Violin Concerto No. 1, recorded by many great names, and his music is now enjoying something of a wider reappraisal.
The jealous King Leontes falsely accuses his wife Hermione of infidelity with his best friend, Polixenes, and she is forced to go into exile with her baby daughter but soon dies.
Her daughter, Perdita, is raised by shepherds and sixteen years later falls in love with Polixenes’ son Florizel, but thinking she is just a shepherd’s daughter Polixenes refuses to allow the marriage
He changes his mind when Perdita’s background is revealed; in the castle a statue of Hermione comes to life and everyone is reconciled.
Previously at WFO: Lighting Designer (Medea, Margherita, Risurrezione, 2017).
Previous Engagements: Lighting Designer (Susanna, Handel, Royal Opera House; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Britten, Deutsche Oper Berlin; La favorite, Donizetti, Houston Grand Opera).
Previously at WFO: Matilde (Maria de Rudenz, 2016).
Previous Engagements: Mathilde (Guillaume Tell, Rossini, Tiroler Festspiele Erl), Elettra (Idomeneo, Mozart, Teatro Sao Carlos – Lisbon), Violetta (La traviata, Verdi, Tbilisi State Opera).
Forthcoming Engagements: Alcina (Alcina, Handel, Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern), Soprano (Symphony no 9, Beethoven, Teatro Degollado, Guadalajara, Mexico).
Previous Engagements: Holländer (Der fliegende Holländer, Wagner, Longborough Festival Opera), Salerio (The Merchant of Venice, André Tchaikowsky, Welsh National Opera), Scarpia (Tosca, Puccini, Welsh National Opera).